Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis: An Overview

Levoscoliosis is a spinal curve to the left, dextroscoliosis to the right

Scoliosis is a type of spinal deformity that can cause levoscoliosis (spinal curve to the left) or dextroscoliosis (spinal curve to the right). You can have one or more curves of the spine of varying curvature, and each curve can involve a small or large area of the spine.

Scoliosis can affect the cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar portions of the spine.

A doctor examines a young patient's spine.

sylv1rob1 / Deposit Photos

Dextroscoliosis vs. Levoscoliosis

To diagnose the direction of your lateral spinal curve, your healthcare provider will determine the direction of the spinal column deviation from the midline of your body. In people with a straight spine, the column is generally located at the midline area.

Scoliosis symptoms, based on postural changes, point toward the diagnosis. Levoscoliosis refers to a spinal curvature that bows out to the left. If the spinal column deviates to the left relative to the midline of the body, the curve would be diagnosed as levoscoliosis.

In a similar way, dextroscoliosis symptoms are based on spinal curvature to the right.

Levoscoliosis

Diagram of a levoscoliosis.
Diagram of a levoscoliosis.

BSIP / UIG / Universal Images Group

When you first look at the image above, the curve might appear as if it is going to the right side. This may be because the patient is side bending to the right as a result of the bones of the spine having moved away from the midline and towards the left.

Because the spinal bones are left of center, the patient's spinal balance is interrupted, and the person tends to drop over, or side bend, to the right. In this way, the patient finds the best possible support for upright posture, given the fact that they are dealing with a levoscoliosis.

Due to routine posture and movement habits over time, the muscles on either side of the levoscoliosis may weaken and tighten, eventually keeping the posture in a side bend.

So if you see the spine move to the left, as it does in this diagram and in the picture that follows, it could mean that the curve is going to the left.

Spinal curve.
Levoscoliosis.

Genna Naccache / The Image Bank / Getty Images

A levoscoliosis can appear as if a person is deliberately bending. In this instance of levoscoliosis, the curve is in the lower back.

Experts suggest that left thoracic spine curves have a slightly higher tendency to be associated with diseases, while right thoracic curves are more likely to develop in the absence of disease.

However, every case of scoliosis deserves a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause. Issues like the age of scoliosis onset and other underlying medical conditions should help guide additional testing.

It also will help to determine appropriate treatment, such as surgery.

Is Levoscoliosis Curable?

Levoscoliosis treatment depends on the severity of the curvature and associated symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. It also will depend on if and how the levoscoliosis worsens. Observation, orthopedic bracing, and surgery are among the treatment options, depending on the specific case.

Dextroscoliosis

Depictions of a skeleton with a straight spine and a spine with dextroscoliosis.
Depictions of a skeleton with a straight spine and a spine with dextroscoliosis.

SCIEPRO/Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Dextroscoliosis is a spinal column that bows out to the patient's right. Dextroscoliosis symptoms include the body's tendency to side bend to the left, and may vary in terms of how serious the condition is or may become.

Most of the time, a dextroscoliosis occurs in the thoracic spine.

Diagnosis

X Ray of a scoliosis
X Ray of dextroscoliosos on top and levoscoliosis on the bottom.

NI QIN/E+ / Getty Images

An X-ray is an important part of diagnosing scoliosis and determining the location and extent of spine misalignment, as well as informing dextroscoliosis treatment.

In the X-ray above, there is an area of dextroscoliosis and an area of levoscoliosis. In this image of an X-ray, the thoracic spine (top part) shows a dextroscoliosis, and the lumbar spine (bottom part) shows a levoscoliosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

    Scoliosis symptoms involve misalignment that's often visible: a shoulder or hip higher than the other, the head not centered over the body, or the overall appearance of leaning to one side.

  • What causes levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis?

    In most cases (about 85%) the cause is unknown. These are diagnosed as idiopathic scoliosis. There also are rare genetic causes. Scoliosis may be linked to another condition as well, more often with a diagnosis of levoscoliosis.

  • Can you have both dextroscoliosis or levoscoliosis?

    Yes, it is possible to have more than one spinal curve with scoliosis. Dextrocoliosis is more common in the midback and levoscoliosis is more likely in the upper spine. This is known as combined scoliosis, which may be a risk factor for fractures in the spine's vertebral bones.

  • Do levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis lead to complications?

    If scoliosis worsens, the spine may press on nearby nerves. This can cause weakness and/or numbness in the legs, and changes in gait and balance. It's possible in rare cases for breathing problems to occur because of more severe skeletal changes.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.